A little reunion gathering that was difficult in the planning to seemingly complicated time schedules, so an interesting dining location was sort after… Sake No Hana had the final blessing!
The weather wasn’t with us, torrential rain, so making my way to Sake No Hana was a very wet experience. There are two entrances to Sake no Hana, the first one you encounter leads to the bar, the second, to the reception of the restaurant. Having deposited my rather wet rain coat with the “meet & greet” ladies, I was shown to the bar area to await the rest of my guests. Sitting alone in a bar isn’t one of my favourite past times, but it was interesting that the rest of the clientèle seemed to be overly absorbed in their own little group, almost afraid of observing what was happening around them. Has Sake no Hana such a formidable reputation? The evening ahead was going to be interesting!
Cold and wet… hot sake came top of the list for something to drink! Not knowing if any of my other friends would accompany me in some sake I decided to order ahead. I have not much knowledge of sake, except that I have a friend who represents one of the sake houses and has often introduced me to the different range that her company makes. So having spotted her brand in the menu, I asked the waitress if she could recommend a hot sake using this brand as reference. Excusing her lack of knowledge she consulted with a sake expert at the bar – judging by the conversation I don’t think the “expert” was particularly impressed by “my choice”. So the poor waitress had to find a way to suggest a “better” option to me via him, a difficult situation for her, especially as it was not in her native tongue. Here is a typical example of misinterpretation not helped by a lack of confidence in the command of English. I had only mentioned the sake brand I know as a reference point so that I could gauge how better or worse other sakes would be.
In the end, I settled with their suggestion of Kamoizumi Shusen “Three Dots”, Junmai, lovely and smooth and warming on such a rainy night.
Once the rest of my party arrived, we were ushered upstairs via the escalators to the dining area. It was quite a grandiose and dramatic entrance to the dining area, as not only were we shown to our table, but we were also “shown” the restaurant. Our table was clearly designed to make the most of the view of the room rather than for us to chat easily, an oval table where the three of us sat in a row on the bench. I presume they didn’t want any of us to face the service area behind, so we sat cosily with the only guy in our three flanked by two girls – lucky man!
Omakase was the way to go, but as per usual, we needed to change the menu slightly. This time we decided to add to the menu: we chose the £49 Signature menu, but added the Yasai Tempura and the Tofu Teriyaki Toban from their vegetarian menu as additional dishes. Have a look at their signature menus. Oddly enough we didn’t feel the need for anything else but some green tea to accompany our meal – most rare not to sample more sake!
Taking on the Caucasian order of service for our dinner, we were served our miso soup first, Akadashi - red miso soup with wild mushrooms, followed by our starters. As you can see from the images, Japanese food just lends itself to great presentation. We had Aburi Salmon, Sesame Fried Aubergine and Fig, Beef Rikyu Tataki, Sesame Spinach, and Parsnip Kinpira and Veg. The taste of each dish was delicate and each flavour was distinct – a wonderful blend of taste and consistency.
The sashimi: Akami, Tai and Salmon that followed was incredible! Soft, smooth and creamy! Seemed such a shame to add any wasabi to it, and yes, a poor image below as we totally forgot to capture an image before launching in!
I think we over did our mains! But I’m not complaining. As you see below: Salmon Hoba Teriyaki - char-grilled salmon on hoba leaf with teriyaki sauce, teriyaki glazed duck breast with sautéd fois gras and truffle sauce, Yasai Tempura - seasonal vegetable tempura, Tofu Teriyaki Toban - tofu and mushrooms with teriyaki sauce in toban.
We were totally oblivious to the rest of the dining room as we started to sample the different dishes and catch up with the gossip from each other – interesting revelations by the way! So much so that before we knew it we had moved onto our sushi dish, and finally our desserts in rapid time but yet seemingly very decadently. I do appreciate when a restaurant gives you a lot of time to dine.
The maitre d’ had a quiet word with the man of our group to inform him that we needed to vacate our table imminently; the next diners were waiting. Instead of dwelling on the fact that we had to vacate, I was more pleasantly amused by the chivalrous nature in which the maitre d’ had chosen to inform us of this news. Once all the party knew of the situation, it was only then did he address us as a group and apologised further for having to hurry us along.
We didn’t get to tour the restaurant again on our way out, but we were all smiles as we descended down and out of Sake no Hana into the cold rainy night, only to discuss our next venue to continue our gossip.
Sake no Hana
23 St. James’s Street,
London, SW1A 1HA
Reservations 0207 925 8988
MONDAY – THURSDAY
12 – 3pm
12 – 3pm
12 – 4pm
MONDAY – THURSDAY
6 – 11pm
6 – 11.30pm
6 – 11.30pm